Classical music

Meet the composer who licked Beethoven’s carpet

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Gerald Barry once licked Beethoven’s carpet. At least, that’s what he told me, and I’m as sure as any interviewer…

Evgeny Kissin in 1993

‘The Western establishment is betraying its values’: Evgeny Kissin interview

17 June 2017 9:00 am

The great, enigmatic pianist has always divided critics. He talks to Damian Thompson about his heretical opinions on Horowitz, Israel and Brexit

I had to watch through my fingers: Aurora Orchestra play Brahms One from memory

10 June 2017 9:00 am

Playing in an orchestra that disintegrates mid-concert is not an experience you forget. One moment everything’s motoring along nicely. Suddenly…

Harpsichordists at war

27 May 2017 9:00 am

Harpsichordists are supposed to make love, not war: Sir Thomas Beecham famously compared the sound they make to ‘two skeletons…

Telemann was much more than a prolific purveyor of musical muesli

27 May 2017 9:00 am

The concert began with a flourish and a honk. Well, of course it did. Telemann wrote his last Ouverture-Suite in…

How the KGB infiltrated classical music

13 May 2017 9:00 am

Spare a thought for Emil Gilels, still revered today by Russians as the foremost pianist of the Soviet era. The…

Bach at its most bruising and gruff: Kyung Wha Chung at St George’s, Bristol, reviewed

13 May 2017 9:00 am

Coined in 1944, ‘completism’ is a modern term for a modern-day obsession. What began as a phenomenon of possession —…

The finest Wotan around: Latvian bass-baritone Egils Silins

I still have no idea what the LPO’s Belief and Beyond Belief season was about

6 May 2017 9:00 am

The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ season is drawing to a close, without making it in any degree…

Sunyoung Seo as Liù, Alastair Miles as Timur and Rafael Rojas as Calaf in Opera North’s production of Turandot

Puccini at his most enjoyably reprehensible: Opera North’s Turandot reviewed

6 May 2017 9:00 am

Some opera-lovers prefer concert performances to full stagings. I don’t. It’s that whole Gesamtkunstwerk thing: opera needs to be seen…

Master of dramatic interplay: Jack Rosenthal in 1962

Those of us who rely on radio to keep us sane need to rally round the BBC

6 May 2017 9:00 am

Bashing the BBC often becomes a popular blood sport in times of political instability, and especially if the left is…

Luther’s music had an even greater impact than his words

29 April 2017 9:00 am

It’s 500 years since Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, sparking…

Salzburg did Wagner proud this Easter with a revival of a legendary production

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Herbert von Karajan established the Easter Festival in Salzburg 50 years ago with a production of Die Walküre that is…

A marvellous occasion – but could it not have been pruned? Il ritorno d’Ulisse reviewed

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Monteverdi 450 — the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists’ tour of his three operas to 33 cities across two…

London’s orchestral scene is dead. Time to change the music – and some CEOs

15 April 2017 9:00 am

For much of the past half-century, London has been the world’s orchestral capital. Not always in quality, but numerically without…

A ravishing Rameau premiere – pity the choreography was pure Bez

15 April 2017 9:00 am

The English weren’t the first cowpat composers. Jean-Philippe Rameau raised the art of frolicking in the fields to such heights…

How Min Kym’s life became unstrung

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Min Kym is a violinist, but if you Google her name you won’t find sound-clips or concert reviews, touring schedules…

Meet the founder of the Boring Music Society (and possible neglected genius)

1 April 2017 9:00 am

It’s always promising when the orchestra won’t fit on the stage. For the UK première, some 97 years after it…

Slyly surreal: Christopher Alden’s Partenope at ENO

Denial has rarely looked so good: ENO’s Partenope reviewed

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Ceci n’est pas une Partenope. Forget the warring classical kingdoms of Naples and Cumae: this is surrealist Paris in the…

Time to retire: pianist Maurizio Pollini at the Royal Festival Hall in March 2016

Maurizio Pollini needs to retire

25 March 2017 9:00 am

There’s a moment in the finale of Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata when the frenzied piano writing turns unexpectedly jolly. The late…

Did Igor Levit’s latest Beethoven recital deserve to be booed?

4 March 2017 9:00 am

Nothing pleased Iannis Xenakis more than a great big rattling storm. The sound of a thunderclap would have him running…

‘Portrait of a Musician’, thought to be Claudio Monteverdi, c.1590, by a Cremonese artist

The true radical genius of Monteverdi is not in the operas but in the madrigals

18 February 2017 9:00 am

On his 450th anniversary, Alexandra Coghlan celebrates the composer’s remarkable musical prescience

Not many concerts should be as devastating as this: Philharmonia Orchestra/Nelsons reviewed

28 January 2017 9:00 am

It used to be said that Bruckner composed the same symphony nine times, whereas, thanks to the comparative frequency of…

Does Radio 3 really need to tiptoe around every controversy?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

This week the Southbank Centre began its ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ festival — a series of concerts and talks claiming…

Nonsense squared: Alice’s Adventures Under Ground reviewed

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Gerald Barry loved playing organ for Protestants as they allowed him a lie in. Then they found out he wasn’t…

Soldiers on the Western Front celebrating Christmas Day in a shell hole partly occupied by the grave of a comrade

The muddy, bloody origins of a treasured Christmas Eve ritual

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Alexandra Coghlan reveals the muddy, bloody origins of a treasured Christmas Eve ritual